Social Media And a Manhunt For a Suspected Cop Killer

Police roadblock during manhunt. Photo: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times

Roadblock during manhunt. Photo: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times

I was headed to the newsroom when the story broke: Fugitive former police officer Christopher Dorner had been in a shootout with law enforcement officers in the snow-covered mountains northeast of Los Angeles.

INTERVIEW: I talk to Poynter Institute about Twitter and Dorner manhunt

The ex-LAPD officer had been accused of killing three people, including a police officer. A second law enforcement officer would be mortally wounded in a raging gun battle that would soon erupt after Dorner fled the shootout and barricaded himself inside a mountainside cabin.

It was a huge story that illustrated how social media has revolutionized the way we gather and share information.

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Bell Coverage Wins Pulitzer Prize

Bell City Hall
Bell is one of the poorest cities in L.A. County. Photo: Robert J. Lopez

I was part of a team of  Los Angeles Times reporters and editors that was awarded the 2011 Pulitzer Prize gold medal for public service for a series of stories exposing alleged government corruption in the City of Bell.

PHOTO: 2011 Pulitzer Prize Winners

Our articles detailed how top officials in Bell, one of the poorest cities in Los Angeles County, enriched themselves with extraordinary salaries and benefits while illegally raising taxes on residents and resorting to other legally questionable schemes to raise revenue.

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Seeking the Ruben Salazar Files

In the months leading up to the 40th anniversary of the killing of Ruben Salazar, I filed a California Public Records Act request with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department seeking documents that might shed light on what happened the day the newsman died. An L.A. Times columnist and Spanish-language KMEX-TV news director, Salazar was shot in the head by a tear-gas missile fired by a sheriff’s deputy after rioting exploded in East L.A. during the National Chicano Moratorium Against the Vietnam War on Aug. 29, 1970. The case has been clouded by controversy and speculation for 40 years.
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Crime, Corruption on U.S.-Mexico Line

Mexican police

This investigation took me into the underworld of human smuggling, organized crime and narco-trafficking in the badlands east of Tijuana. The area was controlled by the ruthless Arellano-Felix drug cartel. My colleagues and I investigated the Mexican smuggling village of Jacume and the corrupt law enforcement officials who allowed the crime to flourish. Known as a “black hole” of crime and corruption, the village sits high on a ridge overlooking the U.S. border and eastern San Diego County. We obtained confidential law enforcement documents and interviewed residents, smugglers and U.S. and Mexican authorities for a look at the inner-workings of an operation largely beyond the control of law enforcement. Here’s a link the article and here’s a link to a great Luis Sinco photo gallery of images shot during our investigation.

(Photo Credit: Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times)

Ruben Salazar’s Suspicious Slaying


Ruben Salzar’s Legacy Lives On from Robert Lopez on Vimeo.

To this day, questions still swirl around the death of L.A. Times columnist and KMEX news director Ruben Salazar, who was killed by a Sheriff’s deputy on Aug. 29, 1970. I produced this Ruben Salazar video, pictured above, in 2008 after the U.S. Postal Service unveiled a stamp honoring the reporter’s legacy. My Column One article was written in 1995 for  the L.A. Times on the 25th anniversary of the newsman’s slaying. I relied on a variety of sources, including friends and colleagues of Salazar, as well as documents from the FBI and LAPD, to reconstruct the final weeks before Salazar was killed by a sheriff’s deputy while covering an anti-Vietnam War rally that exploded into violence. I also wrote a follow-up article in 1999, after waiting nearly six years for the FBI’s Salazar file.

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